Pictures of Birds at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire
|one of the gannet colonies at Bempton Cliffs|
IF YOU DON'T WANT TO LOSE THIS NATURE RESERVE YOU NEED TO TAKE ACTION NOW - SIGN THE PETITION TO STOP FRACKING AT BEMPTON CLIFFS
- AND PASS IT ON TO YOUR FRIENDS.
I am republishing this as a protest against the decision to allow fracking in this area - PLEASE HELP
BIRDWATCHING AT BEMPTON CLIFFS
You smell them before you see or hear them: the smell, that of guano (bird droppings) from the thousands of birds who nest and breed on Bemptom Cliffs on the Yorkshire coast. This is a bird watcher's, a bird photographer's paradise. This bird reserve is maintained by The Royal Society for Preservation of Birds (RSPB). Here there are over three miles of towering chalk cliffs where 200,000 plus seabirds come to breed every year.
At the height of the season, busy puffins fly in and out of rock crevices with food for the pufflings hidden deep in the cliffs. Kittiwakes soar and chitter while feeding their chicks who are balanced on tiny ledge nests. Fulmars provide spectacular aerial shows as they ride the thermals near the cliffs and the huge gannet colony display diving and fishing skills.
Bempton is the ideal spot to watch and photograph seabirds up close. This is an excellent opportunity to chart bird behaviour as they display close to you. One can watch for hours the various displays and habits common to razorbills, guillimots, rock pigeons, herring gulls et al.
The cliff formations themselves are well worth a visit and the effect of erosion by wind and weather on the soft chalk faces has created spectacular nooks and crannies, arches, windows and tiny ledges that provide tentative holds for tiny bird-feet.
|Living on the edge|
Specially constructed viewing platforms spaced along the top of the cliffs, provide positions to watch the birds. This is birdwatching made easy with experienced RSPB staff and volunteers on hand with telescopes to point out the various birds. There is a well stocked RSPB shop where you can see live camera action of thegannet colony. Toilet facilities are adequate and there is wheelchair access to all the viewing platforms. Drinks and light snacks are available from the RSPB plus an enterprising vegetarian cook has a mobile cafe for light meals in the car park. You can even meet Jack Daw - the feathered car park attendant who scavenges for food - just to keep the place tidy you understand!
The original bird pictures here show just why it is not only the birds that flock here... children and adults alike find this a remarkable place to visit.
|gannets nesting at RSPB Bempton Cliffs Yorkshire|
The Gannet Colony
|gannet colony at RSPB Bempton Cliffs Yorkshire|
|adult gannets greeting each other, chick under them|
Probably the largest colony of birds here at Bempton during the breeding season are the gannets. These elegant birds with their bright blue eyes, yellow necks and long beaks return year after year to the same spot to mate and breed. Most mate for life, coming back to the same spot and the same mate as the year before. They will have only one chick and both adults take responsibility for caring it. This includes renewing nesting material and feeding as well as protection. Food the adult has ingested, is regurgitated, beak to little beak.
Space is limited and the best spots are jealously guarded. The birds gather closely together as protection against predators but it is sometimes hard to see how the growing chicks manage to stay on the cliff. Now, in July, the chicks are almost full grown, taking up lots of space. The are still bundles of down with little evidence of feathers as yet but their wings are beginning to develop.
Typically the adults greet each other when they return to the nest. This involves endearing rubbing of beaks and necks that can be seen in these original photos.
Why seabirds cling to the cliffs
Their perches and nests are precarious to say the least: the birds build shallow nests on the narrowest of ledges on what is a sheer cliff face, some 300 feet high. Why? Mainly for protection. No land predators can reach them to rob the nest of eggs or chicks and only a few winged ones can. Some falcons have to been known to visit but the main air-borne predator is the great black-backed gull.
|Kittiwakes, Adult Kittiwake with Chick|
Kittiwakes form the second largest colony on Bempton. They are small gulls whose distinctive call, kiti-a-wake, gives it the name. They are very pretty birds with white head and neck, dark eyes and a bright yellow beak. They tend to lay 2 or 3 eggs in a shallow nest on narrow ledges high on the cliffs. The chicks have more black markings than the adults including a black collar that gradually turns grey then disappears as it approaches full breeding adulthood.
And the rest... you'll find lots of other birds there including the cute little puffin and the razonbill
|adult razorbills in greeting|
|Puffin - The Clown of the Sea|